There has been a lot of speculation this week about whether, and when, Karl Rove will be indicted. While everyone has been distracted with that excitement, Patrick Fitzgerald has laid a few more of his cards on the table, making it increasingly clear that he is closing in on Cheney. In this post, I'm going to pull together some points from three recent posts to show the evidence--and the suggestion of further evidence--including:
- A copy of Joe Wilson's op-ed annotated by Dick Cheney with comments constituting the main part of the smear launched against Wilson that week--the claim that Plame had sent Wilson on a boondoggle
- Evidence that Scooter Libby noted he had instructions to tell Judy something before he spoke with her on July 8--as well as the suggestion that his excuse doesn't hold up
- Evidence that Libby and someone else (I'm guessing it's Dick) were warned of the damage Plame's outing caused after July 14, 2003
In short, I think Fitzgerald is clearly communicating to Dick that he has evidence Dick conceived of the terms of the smear, ordered Libby to implement it, and possibly extended it after receiving warning of the repercussions of it.
Dick's Annotated Wilson Op-Ed
As part of a response to Ted Well's request that Fitzgerald reveal which news articles he intends to introduce as evidence at the trial, Fitzgerald released a copy of Joe Wilson's op-ed, which Dick annotated by taking notes and underlining certain passages. The notes say:
Have they done this sort of thing before?
Send an Amb to answer a question?
Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us?
Or did his wife send him on a junket?
Consider what these notes mean. For the most part, these questions are not first reactions to information he learned newly from the op-ed. We know from Libby's indictment that Dick already knew the CIA had sent Wilson and presumably he already knew (from the CIA materials faxed to his office on June 9) that Wilson had made the trip pro bono. And note the Plame reference: not only does this reference prove he knew of Plame's purported involvement in Wilson's trip (since Wilson's op-ed makes no mention of Plame, Dick had to have known of it independently). But it suggests that Dick's first response, upon reading Wilson's op-ed, was to insinuate it was just a boondoggle arranged by his wife. And his use of the word "junket" certainly resonates with the word "boondoggle," used to discredit Wilson's trip several times later that week (and specifically used with Walter Pincus on the same day that Cheney discussed Plame with Libby on Air Force 2).
In other words, Fitzgerald has just shown us that Dick's first response upon reading Wilson's op-ed was to produce key elements of the smear launched later in the week.
Libby's Failing NIE Excuse
Also this week, Jeralyn made the transcript for the May 5 hearing available. One detail that no one else seems to have noticed is the discussion about Libby's NIE leak, which seems to cast serious doubt on Libby's excuses surrounding his July 8 conversation with Judy Miller, thereby suggesting he was ordered to leak something else to Judy.
As part of the discussion about how Fitzgerald will introduce the information on the NIE leak, he revealed,
MR. FITZGERALD: Only to the extent that if Mr. Libby had an instruction to tell information to Ms. Miller on July 8 and he's saying the instruction reflected in his notes to tell me Judith Miller refers to the NIE. He says he did not discuss Mr. Wilson's wife that day. To our understand both were discussed. [my emphasis]
Basically, Fitzgerald elaborates on news we've known for some time, that Dick and Bush authorized Libby to leak the contents of the NIE to Judy Miller, and that that was the sole purpose of their July 8 conversation. He reveals here, though, that Libby made a note that he should tell Judy something--but that his notes don't specify what he was supposed to tell her. Libby has apparently explained that the instruction relates to the NIE.
Now there are several reasons why we shouldn't believe that excuse. First, Libby leaked the NIE to at least two more people (Bob Woodward on June 27 and--we learn today--a WSJ reporter before July 17). With Woodward, Libby leaked the NIE in his office. With the WSJ reporter, he had another official pass the information on. But for some reason, whatever he leaked to Judy on July 8 required Judy travel to DC for a meeting off-site, at the St. Regis Hotel. If, as Libby claims, this leak was authorized, he wouldn't have needed to go to those lengths.
But the hearing revealed several more problems with Libby's excuse about the NIE. First, Libby claimed to have been authorized to leak the NIE on July 2. If so, why did his note pertain to July 8 (we don't know, of course, either when the July 8 meeting was arranged nor when he wrote the note, so it's possible he wrote the note on July 2)? Also, neither Libby nor Dick nor Bush were able to tell Fitzgerald when Libby had been authorized to leak the NIE. Libby's lawyer describes it in ridiculous terms:
MR. WELLS: Just so the record is clear what the grand jury testimony is. He said that the disclosure of the material was a go, then it was a stop and then it was a go. Then he is asked at some point was it possible that you went too fast. He says I could have made a mistake but I know I was supposed to go, then I was told to stop, and then I was told to go.
But the fact of the matter is Libby has no idea whether, when he leaked the NIE contents to Woodward in June, he was authorized to do so. Yet we're supposed to believe that Libby was so worried about clarifying his authorization on July 2 that he asked Dick specifically?
And one more thing. Fitzgerald suggests (though does not assert it strongly) that Libby leaked the NIE a fourth time (the other three being Woodward, Judy, the WSJ), on July 2. Of this meeting he says only:
MR. FITZGERALD: Right. The earlier one which was July 2 only the NIE was discussed, and that's not particularly relevant but also in I think an earlier conversation we're not getting into it may have come up once before then. It is not a focus of things. I think when we go through the grand jury transcript I'm sure that there maybe something that Mr. Wells raises as -- [my emphasis]
He doesn't describe who Libby met with (from the context, it could even be a fourth meeting with Judy). But the fourth leak (and the possibility that he leaked to Judy earlier) further undermines Libby's claim that leaking the NIE to Judy was sufficiently important to require authorization and a special meeting.
In other words, Libby has testified Dick and Bush instructed him to leak something to Judy on July 8. He says they instructed him to leak the NIE. But Fitzgerald has strongly suggested that explanation doesn't hold up.
The post-Novak Warning about Damage
Finally, there is further detail from the transcript:
In a different conversation that Mr. Libby was present for, a witness did describe to Mr. Libby and another person the damage that can be caused specifically by the outing of Ms. Wilson. It was before the grand jury. It was back in July of 2003.
From a filing released yesterday, we learn:
The July 14 Chicago Sun Times column by Mr. Novak is relevant because on the day the article was published, a CIA official was asked in the defendant’s presence, by another person in the OVP, whether that CIA official had read that column. (The CIA official had not.) At some time thereafter, as discussed briefly at the March 5 oral argument, the CIA official discussed in the defendant’s presence the dangers posed by disclosure of the CIA affiliation of one of its employees as had occurred in the Novak column.
Now, I'm speculating here. But I'm guessing that:
- The other person is Dick
- The warning of damage related to the Plame outing occurred soon after July 14
- The warning may have occurred before "White House sources" told Andrea Mitchell before July 20 (probably at the Ford dinner on July 16) "about the real story being not the sixteen words but Wilson and his wife" (Politics of Truth 350)
That's all speculation, of course. But the revelation--and the unnamed other person--resemble the kind of non-disclosure disclosure Fitzgerald is particularly good at. From the first release of the indictment, he has left clue after clue that Dick is his ultimate target. And in the details released this week, Fitzgerald is suggesting that Libby leaked Plame's name at the direction of Dick and Bush; indeed, that Dick was the primary architect of the smear that week. And he may have continued to leak it knowing how much damage it had caused.
Is Rove Going to be Indicted?
Which is another reason to exercise some caution about whether or when Rove will be indicted. Rove has testified a fifth time, true. And leaks from Rove's camp suggest he will be indicted shortly. But there's a possibility (an outside possibility--I personally suspect Rove will be indicted along with others, but not yet) that Rove is not testifying--perhaps not exclusively--about his own actions. Jeralyn has made an excellent case that Karl may have made a deal. And look at it this way. If you were Bush, and you had a last ditch chance to save yourself by sacrificing either your brain or your wayward Dick, wouldn't you sacrifice the one that had caused you so much trouble in the first place? Again, I think it more likely that Rove and then Dick will be targeted. But make no mistakes. Fitzgerald's recent focus has been on Dick as much as on Rove.
Update: Here's one of Jeralyn's posts where she argues that Rove has been providing evidence against his friends:
I have never bought that Rove's October, 2005 grand jury testimony was just to clear up issues about welfare reform and other details of his conversation with Cooper. I thought at the time that Rove went back to the grand jury to provide last minute testimony against others, such as Libby and Cheney, and for all we know, Hadley.
Also note. I, like most of the commentors, don't think Rove is the flipping type. But my Dick v. brain comment was meant to suggest that, if Rove testified, it might be a way to get rid of Dick, not least since Dick has been causing problems. Bush is too weak to fire Dick (can't anyway--Dick is a constitutional officer). But he can make it easier to prosecute him.